Wednesday, November 30

Rayo fans, faced with the macho controversy: “I don’t think the players feel safe”

“Out of respect for women, Carlos Santiso out of Vallecas”, read a large banner these days in the Madrid neighborhood after an audio of the new Rayo Vallecano Women’s coach came to light in which he cheered a violation. Santiso made its debut this Wednesday at the Ciudad Deportiva del Rayo Vallecano in a match against Valencia, after several days in which players, fans and institutions have cried out against the coach.

“We need to do like those of the Arandina, that we take one, but that she is of legal age so as not to get into jaris and charge her all together. That is what really unites a staff and a team”, Santiso said four years ago, when he was the club’s youth coach.

These words, which now come to light, are “the last straw around a lot of things about the women’s Rayo and around the president of the club, Martín Presa”, says Miguel, a young journalist and Rayo fan . Criticism of Presa has been going on for a long time for various reasons, including the precarious situation of the club’s players, who just a few weeks ago complained that because they had, they had neither a doctor nor a gym and asked to match their conditions to those of their peers.

“If Presa cared about women, he would never hire this guy knowing the risk he is taking. He does it and, furthermore, he thinks that he is on a crusade against the world, that the whole world is against him and that it is an ideological crusade of the people of Rayo Vallecano against him”, continues Miguel.

At the gate of the field of the Ciudad Deportiva Fundación Rayo Vallecano almost more journalists than fans accumulate this Wednesday. “It’s a shame that the women’s team is only interested in the press when there’s a controversy,” says another team supporter and neighborhood resident, Enrique, seeing all the cameras before entering.

In the stands, dozens of people cheer on the players of both teams. Paula and Marta follow the game because they have partners playing. They have also followed the controversy over the sexist statements and ask that the team not be held accountable. “We should all express our rejection and get a guy like that not to train,” says one of the young women. “If the club is supposed to watch over the rights of the players, putting a person like that to train the club will take everything for what they can boast of having a women’s team,” says her partner.

“Santiso, get out of Rayo!” shouts a fan at the back of the stands. Nobody follows the slogan. They are focused on the hard-fought match that is still 0-0 by the 20th minute. Santiso can be heard shouting and giving instructions to the players from the bench, but he is hardly seen.

José Miguel also follows the game, although his first team is Real Madrid. “But of course, I’m from the neighborhood and many of these girls are my neighbors,” he clarifies. He has learned about the statements through the media and believes that “a person who says these kinds of things and thinks that way does not regret it, it is his way of being.” In his opinion, Santiso should resign and go. “The girls don’t love him, he doesn’t love anyone. That he be aware and reconsider his words, ”he assures.

José Miguel prefers, instead, not to comment on Martín Presa, despite the fact that the president of the club has been surrounded by controversy. But he does affirm that “the female is fatal”: “They charge badly and late and that’s how Rayo is, they have no motivation at all”.

Jesús, sitting in the center of the stands to see the game better, thinks that what is happening with the coach is “scary” and also opts for Santiso to leave. He doesn’t think this is the team’s first problem: “There’s a lot of crumb behind it but I’m not the right person to tell about it. I’m just saying this is the tip of the iceberg.”

Álvaro and Sergio come to see a friend who plays. In fact, one of them wears the Rayo shirt with Patri’s name on it. They agree with the rest of the fans that Santiso shouldn’t be training: “He doesn’t set a good example and I don’t think the players feel safe and can’t even look him in the face”. They also criticize the conditions in which the players work, not only in comparison with the men’s team, but also “with other women’s teams”: “They take a long time to pay their salaries and, moreover, they have been ten days away from being kicked out of their homes.” because the club did not pay the rent.

Loli and Alejandro, mother and son fans and dressed in the colors of their team, are forceful with their complaint. They believe that Santiso’s presence is “a shame.” “He has to be fired on the spot and if he doesn’t have the dignity to leave, fire him.” “He is surreal that he is training a team and more so the women’s team, it sounds like a joke,” they say angrily. Loli is sure that Presa “wants to get the female out of the way.” “That the girls play without a medical team and that the opposing team has to attend to them is the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen in my life as a Rayo fan,” says Alejandro. “He is a brainless person, I don’t understand anything. But it’s about dignity, pure dignity,” concludes Loli.

At the break, one of the women who has encouraged the team the most talks to several people. She is Isabel Rubio -known as ‘Abu’- and her life has always been linked to the team, of which she is a former player and former delegate. She doesn’t want to talk about the controversy because she doesn’t know “anything about her” but she believes that we have to “calm down this story” and talk about “women’s soccer”. “I hope that when this happens, journalists come to talk about women’s soccer and what we represent,” says the former player, who claims to have spent “43 years trying to get this going.” “I want us to be on TV because of how the good girls play, whether they are from Rayo, Valencia or wherever they are from”.

In a field without a scoreboard and with small stands with seven rows of seats, the Rayo players defend their team’s colors with their heads held high. Three hours later, at 8:00 p.m., the men’s team plays at the larger Vallecas stadium, with a scoreboard, which is attended by more fans and whose tickets cost between 20 and 40 euros. The cheapest ones cost double the ten euros that any women’s ticket has cost.